MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. This week I’ve decided to revamp the banner to include the book I’m celebrating.

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Kate Wilkinson
Illustrated by Joe Berger
Published by Piccadilly Press

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

In less than a second it [the bird] had snatched a silver spoon from an empty cup and shot up the narrow staircase behind her.

This book in three words:

ADVENTURE, FRIENDSHIP, FLITS

Edie and the Box of Flits is a delightfully enchanting story that utterly captivated me, and took me on a magical and exciting adventure filled with daring, discoveries and danger.  Absolutely spellbinding!

Eleven-year-old Edie Winter loves travelling on the London Underground and is helping her Dad out in the London Transport Lost Property Office during half term, reuniting owners with their lost belongings.  However, she is rather intrigued by a mysterious wooden box left behind:  could there be something inside it?  Imagine her surprise when she discovers three tiny winged people living in the box:  Flits who need her help. 

Although Edie is forbidden to take any found item home from the Lost Property Office, she is unable to resist, and takes the family of Flits home with her.  Impy, Speckle and Nid desperately need her aid to find their missing family after their home has been destroyed.  Can Edie and her new friends find the missing Flits, and expose the culprit behind their disappearance?    

This is a delicious treat of a story: fast-paced, action-packed and with plenty of tantalising twists, secrets and revelations sprinkled with a perfect pinch of danger and intrigue, making it a real page-turner.  I was wholeheartedly invested in the story as the plot twisted and turned, taking me on a real rollercoaster of an adventure. 

I absolutely adored the Flits, who can only be seen by children under 13, and loved that they have very individual personalities which were wonderfully portrayed in the story.  I especially liked Impy who is playful, feisty and courageous.  The Flits, fans of all things sugary, recycle items thrown away by humans in order to build and furnish their homes: I loved this message about not being wasteful and the importance of recycling and reusing.  Edie is a wonderful young girl who has found the move to secondary school difficult due to friendship issues. She finds new friendships with, and through, her bond with the Flits, and shows quick-thinking, strength and courage when helping her new friends.

The illustrations which are scattered throughout are absolutely stunning and complement the story perfectly as do the chapter headings depicted as a tube line. 

This is a wonderfully magical, heart-warming adventure of family, friendship and Flits that I have no doubt young readers will adore and want to re-read again and again.

Thank you to Piccadilly Press for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I’m really enjoying this one, and am definitely keen to find out more about the sea ghosts and, maybe, hidden treasure? I really like the main character, Faith, who has a lot to deal with.

I have finished listening to the audiobook of The Owl Tree on Borrowbox. It is a wonderful story of a boy’s determination to save the tree which overhangs his Granny Diamond’s garden from being felled by his neighbour, Mr Rock. There is a mystical element to the story that I really enjoyed with Gran’s health being somehow linked to the tree and Joe being able to hear the tree talk. I also really enjoyed finding out about Mr Rock’s reasons for wanting to cut down the tree. I’ve also read The Misadventures of Nicholas Nabb which I really loved. Nicholas is such a likeable young boy who finds himself living in the sewers after running away from the orphanage where he has been left as a baby. After stealing a bread roll, he finds himself in trouble until he is saved by a widow in a veil who seems to know him but, before he can find out more, she disappears during a magician’s act. Nicholas, along with his new friend Edwin (who is not all he seems to be) is determined to find her which leads him into danger as he has become unwittingly entangled in the machinations of some rather nasty characters. This is wonderfully fast-paced, humorous and gives a great insight into Victorian London. Nicholas is a brilliant character who I was really rooting for.

I’m hoping to finish some reviews tomorrow and then read The Midnight Thief. Not sure if I’ll get anything else read before next Wednesday as my sister and her partner are coming to visit this weekend (ridiculously excited to see them), and I’m going back to Ireland with them for a few days.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Review: The Way to Impossible Island

Written by Sophie Kirtley
Cover Illustration by Ben Mantle and Lettering by Patrick Knowles
Published by Bloomsbury

The Way to Impossible Island is a stunning, action-packed timeslip adventure linking the past to the present in such an exciting and mesmerising way.  It wholeheartedly captured me from the peril in the opening chapter to the wonderfully uplifting ending, transporting me into a richly evocative landscape with the most wonderful characters.

If you have already read Sophie’s first book, The Wild Way Home, then you will adore the links to characters in this story; however, this can certainly be read as a standalone although I’m certain you’ll want to pick up The Wild Way Home immediately after reading this if you haven’t already read it.

The story switches between two viewpoints:  Dara, who lives in the present, and Mothgirl who travels from the Stone Age to the present where both meet in a bid to fulfil personal goals and, in so doing, help and support each other whilst becoming firm friends.

The story opens with Mothgirl whose older brother, Hart, has gone missing.  Her home is under threat from the menacing and frightening leader of Vulture Clan who is intent on having Mothgirl join his clan where she will be expected to conform to the expectations for women of the clan.  However, Mothgirl is wonderfully free-spirited, strong-willed and determined to carve her own destiny so runs into the forest with her wolf, ByMySide, with whom she has a heartfelt bond which is such a vital part of the story, and one that I adored.  She is intent on finding her brother and saving her home from Vulture and, after an intriguing discovery by her wolf, they find themselves in a very changed landscape …

Dara is on holiday on the mainland close to Lathrin Island, a place he is determined to row to after his Big Operation in order to investigate the legend of the Golden Hare, but his dreams are shattered when his operation is delayed yet again, a delay that acts as a catalyst to propel Dara into making a decision to fulfil his goal to visit Lathrin Island, to go on an adventure beyond the mainland …

Whilst getting a boat to row across to the island, he finds a frightened girl wearing animal skins who desperately tries to escape by swimming to the island which forces Dara to overcome his fears and rescue her, leading both on the most incredible adventure, an adventure filled with danger, discovery and courage.

I adore the setting of this story and the appreciation of the natural environment.  Lathrin Island is an anagram of Rathlin Island off the North Coast of Northern Ireland, and, I believe, was the inspiration for the imagined island.  Even though I went to University in Coleraine and my sister lives there, I have yet to visit Rathlin Island, but now I really, really want to.  My sister’s partner kayaks a lot off the coast of Northern Ireland and has visited and tempted me with wonderful pictures of beautiful wild landscapes and animals including seals and puffins.

Photo by G Farrelly, Rathlin Island

This is a story of searching for the possible in the face of seeming impossibilities, of accepting who you are and believing in yourself.  Both children initially feel trapped, helpless and frustrated by their situations, but both have the courage to take action, action which leads them into an incredible adventure.  I loved the sense of empowerment felt by both Dara and Mothgirl as their belief in themselves, and each other, reveals their inner strength and determination to fulfil their goals, despite the hardships they both face.  Whilst wary of each other at first, they form a wonderful empathetic bond of friendship, working together to fight for survival and face their fears. 

This is an exhilarating and heartfelt adventure where the ancient past and present day meet through the hopes and fears of the most remarkable young characters who find each other at just the right time … an unforgettable story of friendship, family and acceptance.

Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.  I have now bought a physical copy for my class library.

This is my fourth book for my 20 (10) Books of Summer Reading Challenge which is hosted by Cathy Brown on her blog at 746Books.com

August anticipated releases …

There are LOTS of books due for release in August which I am really looking forward to reading. I’ve taken the synopsis for each of these books from the Waterstones website. I have read, and loved, previous books by most of these authors, and so am really looking forward to either their next book in a series, or something new from them. There are also a few new-to-me authors whose books I am looking forward to reading.

Release Date: 5th August

The robot Adam-2 has been locked in the basement of a lost building for over two hundred years – until one day he is discovered by two children, and emerges into a world ruined by a civil war between humans and advanced intelligence. Hunted by both sides, Adam discovers that he holds the key to the war, and the power to end it – to destroy one side and save the other. But which side is right? Surrounded by enemies who want to use him, and allies who mistrust him, Adam must decide who – and what – he really is.

When the Star Boy’s space-pod crashes in the grounds of Fairfield Academy he knows he must seek shelter. Taking refuge in the school’s boiler room to await rescue he discovers that the room’s small window is the perfect place to watch humans go by. The Star Boy knows about humans from his Earth lessons but no one from his planet has ever studied them up close. Now he has the perfect opportunity. There are two humans in particular that catch his attention – a boy called Wes and a girl named Kiki. But as his curiosity grows so does his courage and, making a momentous decision, the Star Boy follows Wes and Kiki into class … and into their lives.

What you don’t remember can’t hurt you… Cyan has lived at the Elsewhere Sanctuary for as long as he can remember, freed by Dr Haven from dark memories of his past life. But when Cyan finds a mysterious warning carved into the bones of a whale skeleton, he starts to wonder what he had to forget to be so happy. New resident, Jonquil, begins to resist the sanctuary’s treatment, preferring to hold on to her memories – even the bad ones. So when Dr Haven resorts to harsher measures, Cyan embarks on a secret mission to discover the truth about the sanctuary…and himself. 

Transplanted from her exciting life as an explorer’s daughter, Freya finds herself miserable at a posh boarding school. Freya hates all the boring rules, the other girls are mean to her, and the headmistress is frosty good manners personified. When a bat removal expert is called in to deal with an infestation, Freya meets his irrepressible children – and finds herself making friends at last. Together they explore the city, with particular interest in the grand exhibition showing priceless artefacts for the first time. When the objects are stolen in a dramatic heist, Freya is sure her new friends are responsible – but the true culprit might be closer to home… 

Cordelia and her triplets Rosalind and Giles have lived safely in the castle at the centre of the forest all their lives, protected by the spells their mother has woven. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is when she turns into a dragonfly or a blackbird and can fly beyond the great stone walls. But then one day the outside world comes to them. Two rival dukes and their soldiers have come for the triplets – because whoever is the eldest is the heir to the throne. But their mother knows that since the Raven Crown was broken, no one has been able to rule the kingdom of Corvenne and live, and she will not give up any of her children to that death sentence. When she refuses to reveal which child is the eldest, she is taken prisoner, and Cordelia and her brother and sister find themselves on the run in a dangerous new world. And as they set out across Corvenne to rescue their mother, Cordelia begins to see that there is a deep magic at work, driving her towards a destiny that could tear her family apart, take away her freedom forever or, just maybe, heal a kingdom devastated by a war that has raged for generations.

For Daniel Margate, life is muddled because everything moves: letters, numbers, even classrooms sometimes. Daniel is dyslexic and most of the time, school just doesn’t make sense. He’s in the bottom reading group at school with other kids who are trying to make sense of it all. There’s Akin who can’t sit still for more than two minutes and is almost always getting into trouble, sports star Ste is recovering from a car accident that left him learning how to walk again and Molly-May’s school uniform never fits and is a regular at the local foodbank. But when a mystery horse gallops into their lives one stormy evening, it changes everything. Desperate to keep him safe they form the Secret Horse Society and vow to protect this amazing creature.

Every night Ollo goes to sleep willing something wonderful to happen, like flying out of the window and soaring over town, or galloping through a field of flowers on a unicorn. But nothing ever does: she can’t dream. All the other kids at school have dreams. And they’re not just ordinary dreams; they’re enhanced, fantastical ones with a guaranteed nightmare-free adventure every single night. That’s because there’s a special place in town called the Dream Store, which sells every fun dream imaginable to those who can afford it, in the form of DreamDrops. When Ollo finally tries a DreamDrop, will she have the adventure of her life, or will things take a nightmarish turn…?

When Lil is summoned to the Alliance of the Seven Skies, Echo decides to sneak along with her friend Horace. There, Horace is captured by the dastardly Thunder Sharks, a rival pirate clan, who present Echo with an ultimatum: they’ll release her friend in exchange for the legendary dragon’s gold … Echo must journey – through underwater libraries and active volcanoes – to the inhospitable Dragonlands, in order to find the dragon’s lair. But can she find the treasure and prove herself to be a true-sky pirate?

Stix is the tiny but heroic mouse that could be living behind YOUR washing machine. You wouldn’t know it though, because Stix knows how to stay hidden. That’s because Stix goes to P.E.S.T.S. – the Peewit Educatorium for Terrible Scoundrels – a school for pests in the basement of Peewit Mansions where Stix lives. At P.E.S.T.S. they teach you how to run around causing mischief without those pesky humans ever knowing you’re there. But now Peewit Mansions has a new landlord, the evil Colin Royale and his pet pooch The Duchess, and he wants everyone out – pests included. Stix and his friends are going to have to scare them away if they want to save their home and school. Sounds like a job for the PESTS …

When Marina discovers a boy with a head of tentacles and crab claws for hands, she resolves to help him unravel the mystery of his past … ‘Charming and delightful … a whimsical adventure story stuffed to the flippers with fish puns and fun.’ SAM SEDGMAN, CO-AUTHOR OF THE ADVENTURES ON TRAINS SERIES Marina lives in Merlington, a fish-obsessed seaside town. Unfortunately, she doesn’t care for fish; she loves telling stories. Marina finds her best story yet when she explores the ruined, haunted pier: a boy called William with a head of tentacles and crab claws for hands. He has lived on the pier all his life, cared for by a fisherman who has since disappeared and who warned him always to remain hidden. Together, the pair resolve to unravel the mystery of his past – but danger isn’t far away … 

Release Date: 19th August

Valerie has been living at Lightning Falls nearly all her life. She’s perfectly happy helping Meg and the rest of the family to haunt the guests who come to stay there at the crumbling Ghost House. One night, she sees a strange boy, Joe, up on the viaduct. There she discovers that beneath the river is a bridge – one that will take her to the world of Orbis, which Joe claims is her real home. A world that is under threat. Plunged into a dangerous adventure, as the link between the two worlds begins to crumble, Valerie is forced to confront the truth about herself . . .

School just got INTERESTING. Not only is Billie’s class learning how to P.E.E. in the classroom (don’t ask), they now have some very important contacts in the TV world. So as long as Janey McVey doesn’t keep doing the splits for attention, and Billie’s mums don’t keep distracting her with a huge secret thing they seem to be planning… well watch out, because it’s time for B.U.G. to make it BIG!

St Halibut’s has burned to the ground, but there’s no time to mope. With the sinister Ministry of FUN – Forms, Underlining and Notices – on their case, the rag-tag bunch of orphans must make a new home, and protect it from those who want to smash it (and them) to smithereens. But their tight-knit family is unravelling: Tig and Stef can’t see eye to eye, and all Herc can think about is cooking the perfect marshmallows. Worst of all, just when they need her sharp horns and unpredictable temper most, is Pamela giving up the fight? 

One frosty winter’s night, a pure white calf is born on an ordinary muddy farm by the light of a silver moon. This is the legendary Mooncalf, whose arrival has been foretold since the dawn of time. According to a dream passed down from animal to animal, if the calf dies, a great terribleness will come – rising seas, a plague, skies raining down fire, the end of all things… and Little Hare vows to persuade all the animals to protect Mooncalf, whatever the cost. But it’s easier said than done, and soon Little Hare realises that he is the only one who can save the world…

This is a classic wartime tale of a (real!) cat who made his home at the Faber offices and decided he’d never leave. Morgan is a young orphan who lives off scavenging – until he finds a cosy home at a famous London publishing house. Over time he learns a trade – and soon becomes the very best book cat in the business. And then the Blitz begins. Morgan finds himself training up twenty odd kittens to be book cats, and then there is the small matter of secretly evacuating them out of London. Happily, Morgan has a plan. 

August is going to be another bumper month for book purchases! Do any of these pique your interest?

WWW Wednesday

I haven’t got very far with The Owl Tree as I haven’t been driving to work due to car troubles. I’ll probably start this one again when I’m on holiday and can listen to it when I’m out for a walk. I’m just about to start The House on the Edge which is one I’m really looking forward to.

I’ve finished three books this week. The Way to Impossible Island is just as brilliant as The Wild Way Home and I love its associations with the first book. It now makes me want to visit the real Rathlin Island when I go over to Northern Ireland to visit my sister as she lives really close to it, but I’ve never been! I will post my review for this one early next week. I also read The Beast of Harwood Forest which I really enjoyed even though it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but in a good way. I liked the twist in this one and can see it being very popular with upper school. I also read Edie and the Box of Flits which is a magical story with the most wonderful tiny winged creatures, the flits who are utterly brilliant. Edie is also a really likeable character who finds new friendships after a difficult move to secondary school. I will be writing my review this weekend.

I’m hoping to read The Midnight Thief next. It is being release on 5th August.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Review: Kate on the Case

Written and Illustrated by Hannah Peck

Published by Piccadilly Press

on 8th July

Kate on the Case is the first book in this delightful, new illustrated adventure series for younger readers.

Young aspiring investigate reporter Kate is boarding a train to visit her scientist mother in the Arctic alongside her Dad and best friend, Rupert who just happens to be a mouse. 

Kate is not long aboard the train when passenger’s possessions begin to disappear … gymnastic trophies, ginger nut biscuits and some ancient scrolls.  Who could be stealing such a seemingly unrelated range of objects?  Luckily, Kate has brought her idol’s Special Correspondent Manual with her, and is determined to take on the case and solve the mystery …

She soon finds a credible culprit, Madame Maude, but will Kate be able to confirm her initial suspicions, or will a twist in the tale lead her in a rather different direction?

This is a charmingly captured mystery with plenty of action and lots of giggles.  It has a brilliant cast of both human and animal characters.  I especially enjoyed Master Mimkins, Madame Maude’s pedigree cat who is the source, although unwittingly, of plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.  I also really liked conductor-in-training Simon who has a heart of gold but is prone to accidents. 

Kate is an incredibly likeable young girl who is quick-witted, determined and not at all averse to a little ‘sneakery’ to aid her investigation.  Her friendship with Rupert is just gorgeous:  they make a brilliant team. 

This story has wonderful messages about not judging others because of preconceived opinions, and the importance of finding out all the facts rather than jumping to conclusions. 

I absolutely loved that this story included extracts from Kate’s Special Correspondent Manual written by her idol, Catherine Rodriguez.  Just as I did, I can imagine readers poring over these detailed entries.  Adding Kate’s notes to these is genius!  The full- and partial-page illustrations are full of energy and humour complementing the story perfectly, and will be incredibly appealing to young readers as will the detailed character and train illustrations at the start of the book.

This is the perfect adventure for younger readers served up with plenty of action, humour and a real sense of mystery with a deliciously unexpected twist that is sure to bring gasps of delight. 

Thank you to Piccadilly Press for a proof in exchange for my honest opinion. 

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Aleja cursed in Croatian. Her face was already itching under the paint that had scrawled whiskers across her cheeks and turned her lips and nose black. A mask that gleamed in red and gold wound round her dark-green eyes. Tonight Aleja was a fox.

Any ideas?

I loved the first book in this series, The Ship of Shadows, and I’m so looking forward to this one. The cover is stunning.

Waterstones Synopsis:

Aleja and her fellow pirates are eager to embark on a new adventure to find the second piece of the missing magical map. But they soon find themselves panicking, bewildered by a series of confusing clues. And time is running out – fast.

When she starts experiencing strange visions, Aleja realizes that someone is trying to tell her something. But can this new knowledge be trusted? And what will it cost her to find out? 

With the crew’s loyalties tested and more secrets to unlock than ever, Aleja must find a way to beat the clock and prove herself truly worthy of her place on the ship’s crew . . .

Have you read this? What did you think?

Blog Tour: Tiger Warrior: Attack of the Dragon King

Written by M. Chan, Illustrated by Alan Brown, Published by Orchard Books

Tiger Warrior:  Attack of the Dragon King is the start of an exciting, magical new series for younger readers of 6+.  It is a fantastically action-packed, fast-paced and humorous adventure that will appeal to young fans of both gaming and fantasy adventures.

Jack loves gaming and is enjoying defeating some virtual dragons.  Imagine his surprise, and disbelief, when his Grandad, who he calls Yeye, asks him if he has the courage to face real dragons!   His Grandad gives him his deceased father’s Jade Coin, a magical item with the power to summon the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac, and reveals that he is the next Tiger Warrior and must fight evil in the realm of the Jade Kingdom.  Naturally, Jack thinks Yeye is teasing him … until he meets the spirits of some of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac whose power he must learn to harness. 

His Grandad encourages him to travel to the Jade Kingdom to introduce himself as the next Tiger Warrior to the Jade Emperor, and opens a portal with the Coin which Jack travels through …   Far from enjoying visiting a Kingdom at peace, he finds it under attack from a terrifying dragon …

Can Jack and his new friend, Princess Li, work together to defeat the dangerous Dragon King before he destroys the Jade Kingdom and sets his sights on Earth? 

Jack is a brilliant young boy.  He clearly adores his Grandad and I loved their close relationship which is wonderfully natural and filled with humour.  He enjoys the thrill of gaming, but does not feel brave enough to take on the role of Tiger Warrior in real life.  However, Jack learns to make use of his gaming skills in the Jade Kingdom and finds strength, courage and self-belief from his new friends:  the Zodiac animals and Princess Li. 

The zodiac creatures are absolutely fantastic and I adored the bond they form with Jack.  They provide plenty of opportunity for laughs as they jostle good-naturedly for Jack’s attention.  They all have magical powers which they can transfer to Jack as long as he is touching them, and what amazing powers they are:  invisibility, super strength, control over fire and water, and telepathy.  These creatures are drawn from the myth of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, and I really hope this story will encourage children to find out more about this part of Chinese culture.

The full page and partial page illustrations are wonderfully energetic,  and complement the action and humour in the story perfectly. 

This is an electrifying, exciting adventure, with just the perfect frisson of danger, that will keep young readers entranced from start to finish. I have no doubt they will be eager for the next adventure, The War of the Fox Demons. 

Thank you to Holly Stott and Hachette Children’s Group for inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour, and for providing me with a copy of Tiger Warrior in exchange for my honest opinion.

Please do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour:

WWW Wednesday

I’ve just started listening to The Owl Tree on Borrowbox which I’m enjoying. I love that the Owl Tree seems to have feelings, and am curious to find out more about Mr Rock who wants to cut it down. I’m about a third of the way through The Way to Impossible Island which I’m really enjoying. I love how cleverly links are made between Dara and Mothgirl before they’ve even met. I’d love to be able to sit down and read this one in one sitting, but it has been a very slow reading week as work has been hectic. We’ve had 4 of our team isolating which has meant my wonderful LSA and myself are holding the fort with extra duties and near exhaustion by the end of the day. Fingers crossed my class make it to the end of term without anyone having to isolate!

I’ve read Tiger Warrior: Attack of the Dragon King which is a fantastic, action-packed read for younger readers. I will be taking part in the Blog Tour. I also read Street Child and can’t believe I hadn’t already read it. I really enjoyed this book which tells the story of a young boy, Jim Jarvis, who is separated from his sisters and whose mother dies. He is sent to the workhouse, but escapes and finds himself on the streets. This is a powerful and hard-hitting read that I read in a single sitting over the weekend. It is one I’m considering using as part of our Year 6 Victorian topic next year. I also finished listening to Demelza and the Spectre Detectors which I absolutely loved, and would highly recommend. The narration was fantastic. Demelza is a scientist at heart and likes nothing better than inventing, so imagine her shock when she finds that she is a spectre detector whose role is to summon the deceased to spend time with loved ones. Demelza, her Grandma and friend Percy are just fantastic characters who I really liked. And the twists were brilliant!

I didn’t get to this one last week, so I’m hoping to get to it as my next read.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Review: Between Sea and Sky

Written by Nicola Penfold, Cover art by Kate Forrester, Published by Little Tiger on 8th July

Between Sea and Sky is a profound, powerful and thought-provoking story set in a dystopian future where Earth has been devastated by an environmental catastrophe in a period known as The Decline when the land had been flooded and poisoned.  The habitable land has been split into districts which must follow strict rules, enforced by Central District, including a one-child policy; control of resources and food; and, strict punishments, meted out by peacekeepers, for even minor infringement of rules leading to ‘civil disobedience points’ which could lead to internment on a prison ship at sea.

Thirteen-year-old Nat lives in one of these controlled districts, in a concrete and steel compound on metal stilts, along with his scientist mother.  Whilst taking part in a dare to climb an unused windmill and plant a flag, he witnesses two people collecting something on behalf of Central.  On further investigation, he makes an exciting discovery, a discovery that brings hope of the longed-for Recovery.  Nat knows that he should hand over his find, but instead he makes a decision that could put both himself and his mother in great danger …

Meanwhile, Pearl and her younger sister, Clover, live on a floating oyster farm at sea.  Their mother got sick whilst working on the land, and has died, leaving the girls in the care of their grieving father.  When not helping on the farm, the girls spend their time mud-larking, making wishings using their finds, and swimming with their porpoise friend, Grey.  Pearl blames the land for her mother’s death and is suspicious of ‘landlubbers’.  However, her ten-year-old sister is desperate to go to school on the mainland and find new friends, but this could see her taken from her family as she is an illegal second child. 

Pearl, Clover and Nat are brought together when Nat and his mother are sent by the District Controller to spend the summer on the oyster farm, investigating the viability of another food source.  Nat brings his secret find with him and soon shares it with the sisters, but this knowledge may well lead to great danger, danger that risks everything they hold dear …

This is an incredibly vivid evocation of a society and landscape that is fighting to survive years after an ecological cataclysm.  At its heart, it is the story of three children battling for freedom, battling to allow nature the opportunity to renew, and battling to bring about change. 

I absolutely adored all three children who are so well-developed as characters that I was completely invested in their lives and desperate for a better future for them.  I loved how the relationship between Nat and Pearl developed which felt completely natural as they are wary of each other at first, but gradually find a wonderful, supportive and trusting, friendship. Pearl is incredibly protective of her younger sister and is determined to keep her safe; having outsiders encroach on her home makes her angry and frustrated as she fears she may lose her sister.   I loved both the fragility and strength in Pearl as well as her spirituality evoked through her wishings.  Clover is just gorgeous:  inquisitive, kind-hearted and honest with real joie de vivre. 

This is an engrossing ecological story, told from a dual perspective, that heartachingly portrays the devastation caused by environmental catastrophe with its impact on both the landscape and survivors, but there is also a heart-warming message of hope, that nature will fight for survival and find a way to regenerate if only it is given a chance.  Another resounding hit from Nicola!

Thank you to Little Tiger for providing me with an early copy in exchange for my honest review.

This is my third book for my 20 (10) Books of Summer Reading Challenge which is hosted by Cathy Brown on her blog at 746Books.com